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TrewGrip wants to change how you type on your mobile device

Philip Michaels | July 24, 2014
TrewGrip is for anyone who sees their mobile devices as a tool for getting things done but finds that an onscreen keyboard cramps their style.

As for myself, I didn't have that kind of time to devote to mastering the TrewGrip. I did some training exercises, though not enough to really become comfortable with the device, let alone proficient with it. Different people learn at different speeds, of course, but I think that estimate of a couple of hours to familiarize yourself with the TrewGrip is a generous one. I got pretty comfortable using my left hand on the keyboard--the one striking the ASDF keys--but I struggled typing with my right hand. That strikes me as odd, since I'm a righty.

If I had to type a number, I really felt myself straining to reach the numerical keys. That's true on a regular keyboard, of course, but there I can at least sneak a peek at the keyboard layout; that's a little bit harder to do on the TrewGrip, even with the layout of the keys appearing on the front side of the device to provide a little bit of a visual guide.

Another frustration for me: The Tab, Enter, Space, and Backspace keys are on the front of the TrewGrip and not on the backside where the rest of the keys reside. You're meant to strike these four keys with your thumbs, but I found that remembering to hit keys on one side of the device after I had been typing away with my fingers on the other took me out a productive flow. Perhaps, with a little more practice, switching between sides would feel a bit more natural. It's also worth noting that I was typing on a prototype; TrewGrip's makers say they're continuing to refine the device before it ships and one of those enhancements apparently involves rearranging the thumb keys to make them more accessible.

That's not to say I don't appreciate many of the design touches that the TrewGrip offers. The indicator keys on the side facing you light up whenever you strike the corresponding key on the TrewGrip's backside--a helpful visual indicator when you're just getting started using the keyboard. And the battery life--a promised 10 hours for this rechargeable keyboard--means that you're unlikely to run out of juice mid-sentence.

Costly decision
The real sticking point with the TrewGrip, though, isn't going to be the unconventional keyboard layout or even the training time it takes to get comfortable with the device; rather, it's the sticker price, a hefty $249.

That's a lot to pay for a mobile accessory, even for one as elaborately engineered as the TrewGrip. For the sake of comparison, my 32GB iPhone 5c would cost me $50 less than the device I was using to type on it. A more conventional wireless mobile keyboard may force you to find a place to sit down and work, but it will cost you a fraction of what the TrewGrip is slated to run for.

 

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